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August 29, 2014 / mintcustard

Chocolate and macadamia crunch bars


I have been struggling to write this last week. I have no reason why. I have also been a bit lax on the baking and cooking front too. Still, the fact that not a single crumb of any baked good lurks in the kitchen has forced me to get back in a pinny.

I baked a favourite of ours, Chocolate and macadamia crunch bars. Macadamia nuts have the most pleasing texture. Crisp yet unctuous they make a great foil against the cruch and chew of these bars. The recipe comes from the Hershey chocolate website. I use the cookies and creme version of their Kisses when I make it, or just 200g of chopped up chocolate bar!

Chocolate and macadamia crunch bars


August 20, 2014 / mintcustard

Monday Pie – creamy chicken pie made with leftovers.

Monday Pie, ready for the oven.

Monday Pie, ready for the oven.

This recipe isn’t really for a specific size of pie. It is just a plan for using up your leftovers.

Being faced with the remains of a roasted chicken, cold and congealing in the fridge could put you off, but it makes my mouth water. I see the start of a Monday Pie. Stripped of any little chunks of chicken clinging to the bones, make a stock with the carcass. The recipe for chicken stock is here. Put the stock into the fridge if you want to use it later that day or fill an empty 1 pint plastic milk bottle with stock, lable and freeze.

If you have enough chicken to fill the bottom of a pie dish then that’s fine. If not you can use chopped up ham ends, mushrooms, vegetables or whatever you have to hand. Leftover stuffing and sausages work well in this pie too as well.

Pie filling.

Pie filling.

Monday pie – ingredients

Enough chicken, ham,  blanched vegetables, stuffing balls or bacon / sausagemeat to fill a pie dish.

Chicken stock

plain flour


salt and pepper

Shortcrust pastry – 200g flour and 100g butter or premade

1 egg beaten as an egg wash.

How to …

  • Make a white sauce using the chicken stock rather than milk. I’d make it a little thicker than shown in the video below, perhaps more the thickness of double cream.
  • Fold in the leftovers to the sauce and leave to cool completely.
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c
  • If you are making the pastry, do that now and leave to rest. If using shop bought then get it out of the fridge to warm up a little and become easier to roll.
  • Place the pie filling into your pie dish.

Filled pie dish.

Filled pie dish.

  • Roll out the pastry until it is the thickness of a pound coin.
  • Lay the pastry over the pie dish. Using a fork press the edges down to seal. Trim the excess pastry. I re roll the pastry and cut out shapes to decorate the pie. Leftovers can be pretty too.

Baked pie.

Baked pie.

  • Brush the pastry with beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the pie is golden and the pastry is crisp and flaky.

Dig in!

Dig in!


I’m adding this dish to this month’s credit crunch munch. Run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All, it is being hosted this month byElizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

I’m also linking up to the No Waste Food Challenge started by Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen and this month being hosted by Laura at I’d much rather bake than…


August 19, 2014 / mintcustard

Hosting a Barbecue off!

Hosting a BBQ off.

Hosting a BBQ off.

So the weather has been unpredicatable to say the least recently. That doesn’t put me off firing up the BBQ and it shouldn’t stop you either. Those of you who follow Mintcustard, and those who don’t will have seen that a number of my posts are based around my barbecue. I often try to use the barbecue to cook foods that you would usually expect to see coming out of the oven, pizza, baked sweet potatoes and even stuffed mushrooms

How lovely then to be asked by Waitrose to host a Barbecue off. Heston Blumental has created a number of different products for the barbecue.  Also on the Waitrose website there are a whole host of Heston recipes so you can create them on your barbecue at home. 

As you know I love to create new dishes when I cook, but this time the guests to Mintcustard mansions were expected to come up with their own inspiration and originality. And they would be competing with each other to produce the best, or most unusual creation. 

So many ingredients to choose from.

So many ingredients to choose from.

A wide variety of burgers and sausages were grilled and then people set to work.

Carrying back the burger.

Carrying back the burger.

First the breads. Should you combine burger and sausage under one bun? Would a cheese topped bap be better than a brioche bun for a burger. Can I forget the bun altogether and just wrap the lot up in a big iceberg lettuce leaf? The answer to all of the above is a huge resounding “Yes!” It really is a case of personal choice. 

Sausages varied from plain and simple chipolatas, favoured by those who wanted to ramp up the flavours of the accompaniments to spicy choriso sausages that could just be tempered by bun and mayonnaise. The revelation of the night in sausage terms, and that is a sentence I’ve not written before, were the bacon wrapped honey and rosemary ones. Just delicious and personally a brioche bun sets them off a treat.

Look at mine!

Look at mine!

What to put inside your bun? We had a variety of cheeses, dressings, pickles, chutneys, salads and of course ketchup, mustard and mayo. Should the cheese be melted or just placed over the meat. Does anyone eat the pickle?Me, I do!

Please don’t think we just had a meat fest, not that those are bad but we need vegetables too. As a starter we had chargrilled corn on the cob. I soaked the corn in their husks for a couple of hours, then put the damp cobs still in their husks on the BBQ. They steam in their own juices and once the husks are blackened all they way around, about 15 minutes, the cobs are done. We did also have a large platter of antipasti. The Heston inspired roasted shallot and star anise dip is surprising but in a good way!

Antipasti starter

Antipasti starter

Burgers and dogs were accompanied by a big bowl of sweet potato fries. More vegetables.

Sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries

So who won? Tom won the portable BBQ for inhaling a half pound burger, with Monterey jack cheese and a chorizo hot dog in a cheesy bun in seconds.

Thank you Waitrose!

Thank you Waitrose!

 Graham won the BBQ tool for eating 3 of his five a day in his meal – and lots of meat too I may say.



We had a pudding too. Baked banana split with chocolate and ice cream. Nice.

Waiting to be topped with ice cream.

Waiting to be topped with ice cream.

I know the weather isn’t too lovely at the moment but hosting a BBQ off is brilliant fun, and much easier than running a typical BBQ as your guests do all the work. Just provide them with a variety of ingredients and watch them go. I was asked by Waitrose to host this BBQ off, they provided me with vouchers towards the cost of the ingredients and the prizes for the best creations. I was not asked to write a positive review of any of their products or services, or provide links.


August 16, 2014 / mintcustard

Blackberry cheesecake brownies

Just waiting to be baked.

Just waiting to be baked.

Why make blackberry cheesecake brownies? Brownies need very little help, they are superb as they are. I love to use seasonal (and free) ingredients whenever I can, so you will find that blackberries feature heavily at this time of year.

I steep them in gin, put them in samosas and roll them in bread dough. In this case I have borrowed a brownie recipe from Ed Kimber on the Food Network website. As a result I will not be posting his recipe here as it is not mine to post. I swapped the raspberries in his recipe for blackberries. I also halved the quantities in the mix as we have no need to be tempted by a huge tray of brownies.

A few slices as a treat is sufficient. I love to serve brownies with creme fraiche as the acidity perfectly balances the rich decadence of this dish. Please try these blackberry cheesecake brownies. They are magnificent. Thank you Ed for your original recipe.

Cooling on the windowsill!

Cooling on the windowsill!

August 16, 2014 / mintcustard

Crunch topped tomato and basil swirl loaf.

Crunh topped tomato and basil swirl loaf.

Crunch topped tomato and basil swirl loaf.

I know that the sun isn’t shining at the moment but tomatoes seem to have the ability to store up the sun’s rays and then splurge them back out into any dish they appear in. Still, the chill in the air makes us crave carbs.  A slice of toast, a hunk of bread to mop up the pan juices, a sandwich for afternoon tea. I really love the juxtaposition of the crunchy with the soft. Delicious. It could also be that Bake off is back and next week is bread week too.

Ready to be turned into the best cheese on toast.

Ready to be turned into the best cheese on toast.


Crunch topped tomato and basil swirl loaf is a summery way to satisfy my need for bread. The cruch topping comes from a new range of salad sprinkles by Sainsburys. I, in my own usual fashion, decided to ignore the pack suggestion and come up with my own use for them. This loaf is the result.I used the Italian sprinkles on my loaf.

A selection of Sainsbury's salad sprinkles.

A selection of Sainsbury’s salad sprinkles.


500g strong white bread flour

120 to 150ml warm water

200 ml basil and tomato passata

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp dried active yeast

basil paste or green pesto

How to….

  • Place the warm water, sugar and yeast into a jug and leave until the yeast is activated and foaming.
  • Tip the flour and salt into a large bowl.
  • Add in the yeast mixture and the passata.
  • Using a round ended knife mix until the dough begins to come together.
  • Get your hands into the bowl and knead for a good 10 minutes. This is a very soft dough, but that is what makes the resulting bread delicious.
  • Leave in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film or in my case a shower cap! The dough needs to double in size.
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200c.
  • Once doubled in size, tip out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured surface and knock back. Push the dough into a rectangle.

Basil puree on the dough.

  • Smear the dough with basil puree or pesto, you could add a few spinkles in here if you don’t have children who will moan about the bits! Roll up.
  • Wet the surface of the loaf and generously cover with the pack of sprinkles. Pressing the spinkles in gently as you go.
  • Allow the tomato and basil swirl loaf to rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, slice and go.
Doesn't last long!

Doesn’t last long!

According to my children, this crunch topped tomato and basil swirl loaf makes the BEST cheese on toast ever!

I was sent a selection of salad sprinkles to review by Sainsburys. I was given a voucher towards the cost of ingredients. I was not asked to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.



August 13, 2014 / mintcustard

Jewelled flapjacks with a yogurt drizzle.

Jewelled flapjacks

Jewelled flapjacks

I’m going to let you into a secret. I have a child who doesn’t like cake. Yes, I know, I was mortified as you can imagine. I’ve come to terms with it now. Fortunately she does like flapjacks, so today this recipe is for her.

Flapjacks are infinately pimpable. You can have them very plain and that’s wonderful or you can add all manner of bits and pieces according to your family tastes.  Today I added apricots and cranberries. Apricots, because the teen asked me to and cranberries because I had half a packet that needed to be used up. These jewelled flapjacks are chewy and not hard and crispy. cook these for another 5 to 10 minutes if you prefer them like that.

Jewelled flapjacks makes 12 good sized chunks.

200g porridge oats

150g butter

5 tbsp demerara sugar

4 tbsp golden syrup

1 handful of apricots finely chopped

1/2 a pack of dried cranberries

5 heaped dsp icing sugar

1 dsp yogurt

How to …

Preheat the oven to 190c

Line a 6″ by 12″baking tray with parchment.

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan.

Stir in the oats. Fold in the extras. I used apricots and cranberries but any dried fruits, nuts or chocolate chips would work.

Tip into the pan, level out using the back ofa spoon and bake for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool.

Mix together the sifted icing sugar and the yogurt. Drizzle over the cool flapjack.

Put the kettle on and your feet up!

Jewelled flapjacks with a yogurt drizzle are ideal for picnics and dare I say it school lunchboxes!


August 10, 2014 / mintcustard

Pineapple upside down cake – a School Dinner recipe

Pineapple upside down cake

I loved being upside down.

Handstands should have given me ample opportunity to be upside down but they weren’t enough. Somewhere on most school grounds there was a metal handrail that called out to be swung on and rolled around. We weren’t bothered that the tarmac underneath was hard and neither was anyone else. If someone else had got to the bars first there was often a tree branch or a school fence that could be used to support our views of an upside down world. Hanging on just by your knees with your hands waving at your friends is one of the most carefree feelings I can remember. Turning upside down after pineapple upside down cake was not always a good idea. What you really needed to do was sit still and let it all go down. We didn’t of course and the sticky sweetness of this cake gave us huge amounts of energy that needed to be run off.

Exotic and exciting with a much loved sticky coating. Glace cherry lovers chose their seats carefully. Nestling between several cherry haters could gain you up to half a dozen extra red jewels on your plate. Taking the time to eat around the pineapple ring, saving the juice drenched sponge underneath was bliss.

Line a rectangular tin 6” x 10” with baking parchment.


3 eggs weighed in their shells

An equivalent weight of caster sugar

An equivalent weight of self raising flour

An equivalent weight of butter or margarine

1 tbsp pineapple juice

1 can pineapple rings or half a fresh pineapple cored and cut into rings or chunks.

3 glace cherries quartered. Fresh cherries would work here too, just pit them carefully.

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

Vanilla extract

How to…. Heat the oven to 190C

  1. Line the base of the tin with parchment to prevent the pineapples and sugar from welding themselves to the tin.
  2. Drain the pineapple rings and reserve 1 tbsp of juice, or cut the fresh pineapple into rings/chunks.
  3. Sprinkle the brown sugar onto the parchment and lay out the pineapple rings evenly. Adorn the centre of each ring with half a glace cherry cut side up for the best aesthetics. If using chunks then spread the glace cherries out evenly.
  4. Weigh the eggs in their shells; now weigh out an equal weight to the eggs of sugar, butter and self raising flour.
  5. Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture becomes paler in colour and lighter in texture.
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time. If the mixture starts to look a little grainy add a spoonful of the weighed out flour.
  7. Fold in the remaining flour carefully. Slacken the mixture with 1 tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice and a half tsp of vanilla extract. If you use the fresh pineapple and have no juice, milk will do fine.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin evenly and smooth out trying not to disturb the cherries.
  9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and well risen. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes. Turn out and carefully peal back the paper to reveal the cake in all its golden and glistening glory.

This recipe is one of many take from Good Old fashioned School Dinners by Becky Thorn Pub by Anova

August 9, 2014 / mintcustard

A biscuit bonanza. Getting ready for biscuit week on #GBBO

Next week on The Great British Bake Off is biscuit week.

I do love a biscuit. I’m not a snob. I’m as happy with a pink wafer as I am with a richly chocolate coated, foil wrapped Club. What I really love though is a home made biccie. I have made so many and shered them on Mintcustard that I thought I’d put some of my favourites together in one post.

My Mum was an enthusiastic biscuit baker, so I have to include her ginger nuts!

A tin full of ginger nuts!  Ginger nuts recipe

Another one of her recipes was for Viennese whorls which I pimped just a little!

Piped disk of mixture. Vanilla andchocolate Vienese whorls recipe

This is another family recipe, I’ll get to mine in a moment, My Nanna’s shortbreads. Simple and delicious.

Stamped shortbread biscuits Nanna’s quick stamped shortbread.

One of my favourite biscuits as a child were bourbons. Here I have added my own little twist to the recipe.

 Mocha bourbon biscuits.

One step up from a bourbon is to completely cover it in chocolate, and that is what you can do if you make Tim Tams.

tim tam top Home made Tim Tams.

Is it a cake or is it a biscuit? I don’t care, Jaffa cakes rock. As does making your own.

coated jaffa Home made jaffa cakes.

Don’t forget biscuits can be savoury too. Here are my Cheesy Hammy dodgers.

Cheesy Hammy Dodgers Cheesy hammy dodgers.

There are still many more biscuit recipes on Mintcustard. Search the site to find them of drop me a comment and I’ll write a second post! Happy baking.

August 9, 2014 / mintcustard

Chocolate chip waffles with fresh berries.

Chocolate chip waffles with fresh berries.

Chocolate chip waffles with fresh berries.

This is a weekend of weddings and all that goes along with it. Emergency trips to the supermarket to buy tights, that I had been assured we had, a constant replenishment of dry towels into all bathrooms, and the planning of meals as wedding breakfasts neither consist of, nor take place at breakfast.  A 1pm wedding usually means you sit down at about 4pm, to lunch. So yesterday brunch was taken at 11.30 to hopefully slow the post wedding slump, and provide something to mop up the champagne during the photos!

Orange juice with bacon and sausage bagels started us off, but brunch needs a  dish that distiguishes it from simply a late breakfast. Right, how about a pudding!

This is the closest I get to pudding at brunch, waffles. Waffles have those lovely dimples that can hold syrup, butter or in today’s case , juicy ripe berries. I used raspberries and strawberries, just cut and allowed to get to room temperature. No sugar, no glaze, no compote, just the warmth of the sun.


Chocolate chip waffles with fresh berries.


125g plain flour

50g chocolate chips

1/2 tsp baking powder

10g caster sugar

240ml milk

1 egg

1 tbsp oil

pinch of salt

How to..

  • sift the flour, salt  and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the ingredients. Break in the egg, pour in the milk and oil.
  • Whisk together until just combined. Don’t be too fierce as the waffles will be heavy.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Heat your waffle maker or iron.
  • Bake waffles according to the makers instructions.

Serve with a spoonful of fresh berries and a little icing sugar.


As I had several guests for brunch I made a double quantity, this double mix served 8 people.

August 5, 2014 / mintcustard

Panzanella and an honesty box.

The freshest tomatoes.

The freshest tomatoes.

This year’s hot and sunny spell has really brought so many fruits and vegetables.The blackberries are early and everyone seems to have a glut of courgettes! If I had got round to planting some tomatoes and beans they would be dripping with fruits by now I’m certain. I am however astonishingly fortunate. Just over a mile away from my house there is a small roadside fruit and vegetable stand. Filled to the brim with freshly picked goodies. At the moment the glut of  large tomatoes, beans and cucumbers are offered for sale, but on other days I might find yellow cherry tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins and apples. All this, paper bags and an honesty box.

Our local veg stall.

Our local veg stall.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

 When I saw that Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen was running a blog hop encouraging us all to shop local I jaut had to share this roadside stall with the world. In case you are interested this stall is in an outer London borough, near to a very large and sadly notorious town.

This food blogging challenge was developed to promote local food producers and share our recipes using their produce. This is the place to showcase the wonderful foods available where we live, where ever we live, worldwide.



Panzanella (serves one – I don’t share this dish!)

Panzanella ingredients

Panzanella ingredients

In a roomy bowl whisk together a good slug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, several grinds of black pepper and a rasp or two of grated garlic. Take a handful of ripe tomatoes. These must be kept away from the fridge as it seems to suppress the real tomato flavour somewhat. Dice into the dressing mixture adding as much of the juice as possible. Stir and set aside allowing the favours to meld together. Take several slices of staling bread. Cut off the crusts, cut or tear into cubes. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and fry the cubes until golden and crispy. Drain on paper and tumble into a bowl. Quickly pour over the tomato and dressing mix. The bread should almost sigh as you combine the two elements together. Tear some basil over the dish, sit outside in peace with a large glass of wine and imagine someone else is washing up.


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